MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Several people have been placed on criminal trespass status by The University of Memphis after police say they were “aggressively attempting to discuss religion and distribute literature” on campus.
The university released the information via their emergency alert message system.
The individuals are members of World Mission Society Church of God of Southaven. According to the Tiger Zone, the university’s club and organization database, the church is connected to a registered club on campus called the “Elohist.”
Jailyn Washington attends the university and recently had contact with the group.
“I just think it was a little awkward because I didn’t know them and they were, like, shoving their beliefs down my throat,” Washington said.
Another student said the group would flag people down and force them into conversations.
“They would talk about God, which is okay but it gets to a certain point that it gets just naggy,” the student said.
Students, WREG spoke to all say that coming on campus to discuss religion isn’t a bad thing — up to a point.
Mouhammed Jobaen Hossain, a doctoral student at the university, says that it just depends on how they do it.
“If it’s going to be very strong, as reported, then I would say it’s not good,” Hossain said. “The way you express, the way you ask the question I mean, sometimes matters.”
Washington says the missionaries who spoke with her explained some of their belief.
“They believe in some entity called God the Mother, and they tell you that in order to reach salvation you have to believe in God the Mother,” Washington said.
The World Mission Society Church of God is a Christian church that originated in South Korea and has a small congregation of about a little more than a 150 members in Southaven.
Nathan Gulcuynsky who is a deacon at the church told WREG that the misunderstanding started after some unverified social media posts went viral.
Gulcuynsky says they have always preached “the same message about God the mother in the same places for multiple years now.”
The church says in a statement.
“Recently, we were made aware of a social media post in which someone appears to accuse the Church and its members of being linked to a ring of sex/human trafficking. Nothing could be further from the truth. We are a church of Christian love and denounce any such activities wherever they may be carried out.”
Local authorities investigated the allegations and advised that they were just attempting to expand in the area.
Statement on a religious group going door to door. pic.twitter.com/FTjCxVIaNR
— Oxford Police Dept (@OxfordPolice) January 30, 2018
Due to the posts, several members of the church in have been harrassed.
The church also asked that the public please help “stop spreading this wrongful accusation, and help us stop the harassment our member are experiencing due to it.”
The church is working with both the U of M and Ole Miss in order to properly share their belief with others on campus.
You can read the full statment here.